Friday, August 03, 2007

Britain sends mining expert to Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone – A consultant with Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), Grant Wilson, has arrived in Sierra Leone to assist the African nation to properly manage its mining sector.

Wilson, sent to Sierra Leone for two years at the request of the country's President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, was formally presented to journalists in Freetown Thursday.

Minister of Mineral Resources, Mohamed Swaray-Deen, said Wilson was sent to Sierra Leone in response to a request made by President Kabbah to DFID to get someone with the know-how to help government to manage its mining sector

He said Wilson was here to carry a review on an assessment carried out by DFID on the Ministry's operations.

Welcoming Wilson, President Tejan Kabbah had said Sierra Leone depended a lot on its mineral resources, but that the country was not getting as much as it should from this sector.

This, he said, was a concern to the government, hence it decided to seek assistance from DFID to get someone with experience in this area to help government in its policy direction, so the country would be able to derive maximum benefit from this sector.

Updating the British expert about activities in the sector, President Tejan Kabbah said, "As a country, an aerial magnetic survey has been conducted from which a lot of information were collated and are being pursued.

"Government had contacted a Chinese Geological Survey team to help in locating the country's mineral deposits to help government build a database, which it could use to negotiate with potential investors," the President said.

He also disclosed that Sierra Leone had joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) process to ensure transparency in the industry.

President Tejan Kabbah also announced that prospecting companies had found substantial quantity of Iron Ore, Aluminum, Bauxite and Rutile deposits; while saying a seismic survey on oil prospecting was also been conducted.

He told Wilson that an Australian company had already conducted a three-dimensional survey and that drilling was expected to commence in January next year.

The President also informed him that a certain company was currently negotiating with the Ministry of Mines to start the exploitation of bauxite, but noted that government wanted value to be added instead of exporting the raw material.

He also disclosed that a company had proposed building a railway to convey the minerals to the port..

Responding, Wilson said he had been getting very positive feed backs and cooperation from officials of the ministry of mines, promising he would work with them to provide the framework for the success of the mining industry and the ministry as a whole.

He said during his stay in the country, he would train Sierra Leoneans to eventually take over the task.

Britain sends mining expert to Sierra Leone